|Birth name||Fitzroy Alexander|
San Fernando, Trinidad
|Died||26 September 1988
|Years active||Early 1940s – mid-1980s|
Lord Melody (1926 – 26 September 1988) was a popular calypsonian, best known for singles such as the self-deprecating "Boo Boo Man", "Creature From The Black Lagoon" "Shame & Scandal", "Jonah and the Bake", "Juanita" and "Rastaman Be Careful". Melody's career spanned some forty years, from the early development of popular calypso to his embrace of a reggae-influenced sound in the late 1970s.
Melody was born Fitzroy Alexander at San Fernando, Trinidad and Tobago, raised at an orphanage in Port of Spain, and met Alwyn Roberts (soon to become better known as Lord Kitchener) after moving to Arima while still in his teens. Roberts took him under his wing and they returned to Port of Spain, where Lord Kitchener became the leading calypso star, with Melody one of his main challengers. His popularity increased locally when Lord Kitchener emigrated to England in 1947. Melody began singing in the calypso tents in the mid-1940s and was one of the leaders of the Young Brigade tent during the 1950s and early 1960s. He also regularly toured the Caribbean. His early successes included "Berlin on a Donkey", mocking Adolf Hitler, and "Boo Boo Man". In 1954 he won Trinidad's Calypso King title with "Second Spring", and he was signed to the American Emory Cook's record label, Cook Records, in 1956.
He was one of six calypsonians chosen to sing for Princess Margaret at the Governor's House during her visit to Trinidad in 1956; the others were Sir Galba, Mighty Dictator, Mighty Spitfire, Mighty Panther and Lord Viper.
Melody went on to compose a number of other songs that poked fun at his own appearance, such as "Creature from the Black Lagoon".
His first known album was Calypso Fiesta - Limbo In Trinidad, which was released in 1956 on Vitadisc records and contained eight songs, including his popular "Mama Look A Boo Boo". Another album, Calypso Carnival 1958, was released on Balisier records in 1958. It was a split release - the first side contained six Lord Melody songs (some of which did not appear elsewhere), and the second side comprised instrumental tracks by Cyril Diaz (whose band usually backed Melody on his recordings).
Cook Records released some live tracks featuring him on their albums Jump Up Carnival and Calypso Kings And Pink Gin in 1957, which led to him recording a full album for the label the next year.
His first album on Cook Records, Lord Melody Sings Calypso, was released in 1958, with a second album, Again! released the following year.
He frequently sparred in song with the Mighty Sparrow. Rivalry between Melody and the Sparrow was recorded in the calypsos "Ten to One is Murder" and "Cowboy Sparrow". The humorous rivalry between the two calypsonians was immensely popular with audiences. Melody's third album, Calypso Through The Looking Glass, was released in 1960 and featured the infamous "Belmont Jackass" in which Melody berates Sparrow's wife. Another one of Melody's recordings, "Wau, Wau" (more commonly known as "Shame & Scandal"), became an international hit in 1962 and was recorded in the U.S., Europe and Australia. The song was a version of a song originally recorded by Sir Lancelot in 1943 with new verses written by Melody. This subsequently became the most widely known version of the song and Melody's version was covered by The Wailers with Peter Tosh on lead vocal.
Melody's greatest success came when Harry Belafonte recorded his songs "Boo Boo Man" (retitled "Mama Look at Bubu") and "Sweetheart from Venezuela" (aka "Juanita"), having a top 20 hit in the US with the former in 1957. "Mama Look a Boo Boo" was also recorded by Robert Mitchum and many other singers. Several singles became favourites with Britain's West Indian community in the late 1950s. " In the first half of the 1960s, his popularity waned, but he again found success in 1965 when his "Melody Mas" won the Panorama at the Carnival. He released three albums in 1962, but despite recording a number of singles and compilation exclusives over the rest of the 1960s, did not record another album until 1974's Salt And Pepper.
In the late 1960s Melody moved to New York, and he subsequently toured with Belafonte. He was diagnosed with cancer in the early 1970s and the illness restricted his career, although he continued to release albums throughout the 1970s. In this decade he gradually moved away from calypso and instead embraced the emerging soca and reggae styles. These recordings are distinguished by the synths and drum machines of the era and a more reverb-based production sound, as well as the aging quality of Melody's voice at the time. Around 1979 he became a Rastafarian, and released the I Man album, a reggae-tinged album on which he spoke on the subject, the singles "Rastaman Be Careful" and "Brown Sugar" becoming local hits in the same era. In 1982 he made another album, the soca-styled Lola.
|Year of Release||Album Title||Label|
|1956||"Calypso Fiesta - Limbo In Trinidad"||Vitadisc|
|1958||Lord Melody Sings Calypso||Cook|
|1959||Again! Lord Melody Sings Calypso||Cook|
|1960||Calypso Through the Looking Glass||Cook|
|1962||Lord Melody 1962||Cook|
|1962||Caribbean Limbo Music||Cook|
|1962||The Mighty Lord Melody||RCA|
|1962||Lord Melody Sings Calypsoes"||RCA|
|1971||Grine Am||Straker's Records|
|1974||Salt 'N Pepper||Straker's Records|
|1976||Mas Is Devil Power||Strakers Records|
|1978||I Man||Eddymel Records|
|1979||Sugar Jam||Eddymel Records|
- Precious Melodies (1994) Ice. Contains most of the tracks from the two RCA albums The Mighty Lord Melody and "Lord Melody Sings Calypsoes" (in most cases, their only appearance on CD). Also includes several previously unreleased songs from the 1950s and early 1960s.
Notable appearances on various artists compilations
- Jump Up Carnival (1956) Cook
- Calypso Kings and Pink Gin (1957) Cook
- Calypso Carnival 1958 (1958) Balisier
- Calypso Exposed (1961) Cook
- Top Calypsonians (1963) RCA
- Trinidad All Time Calypso Hits 1967-1968 (1968) Telco
- Sing Along With Melo (1970) Benroy's Records
- Super Calypso Hits (1973) Camille
- Calypso Cavalcade Vol 1 (1974) Sounds Of The Caribbean
- Calypso Cavalcade Vol 2 (1974) Sounds Of The Caribbean
- Calypso Cavalcade Vol 3 (1974) Sounds Of The Caribbean
- Calypso Awakening from the Emory Cook Collection (2000) Smithsonian Folkways
- Al Seales Forever GEMS Vol 1 (20??) Caribbean Gems
- Al Seales Forever GEMS Vol 2 (20??) Caribbean Gems